1. * Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (1)
Discount retail chain/Bentonville, AR
Revenues: $378.79 billion
Employees: 2.1 million
From a single store in Arkansas in 1962, founder Sam Walton (d. 1992) and younger brother James L. (Bud) built Wal-Mart into the world’s largest retailer. It now has about 7,250 stores. Sam’s descendants own about 40%. Sam’s son, S. Robson Walton, 63, is the chairman.
2. * Ford Motor Co. (2)
Auto manufacturer/Dearborn, MI
Revenues: $172.45 billion
Pioneering auto firm now in fourth generation. Henry Ford (1863-1947) introduced mass production and dominated early auto market with Model T. His grandson Henry II (1917-1987) rebuilt the company as CEO, 1960-1980, with younger brother William (retired 1995) as finance committee chairman. William’s son William Clay (“Bill”) Ford Jr., 51, now the executive chairman of the board of directors, served as president, CEO and COO until naming Alan Mulally as his replacement in 2006. The Ford family owns about 40% of the voting stock.
3. Koch Industries Inc. (4)
Holding company/Wichita, KS
Revenues: $98 billion
Fred C. Koch, who invented a crude oil refining process, founded a vast empire of oil and gas services, cattle ranches, coal mines, real estate ventures and manufacturing facilities. In 1983 dissident sons Frederick and William filed suit contesting $1.1 billion price that Charles and David (William’s twin) paid for their brothers’ share. The dissidents lost after 13 years; Charles, 73, and David, 68, control company.
4. Cargill Inc. (3)
Commodities /Wayzata, MN
Revenues: $88.26 billion
The company buys and sells grain, poultry, beef, steel, seeds, salt and other commodities on six continents. Founder William Cargill and brothers provided grain elevators to store wheat after Civil War. His Cargill and MacMillan descendants, now in fourth and fifth generations, have run the firm ever since (with non-family CEOs). The company created one of the first management training programs in the 1930s. Whitney MacMillan, who retired in 1995 after 18 years as CEO, was the last family leader, although family members own about 90% of the company and several remain on the board.
5. Carlson Cos. Inc. (100)
Travel, hotels, restaurants/Minnetonka, MN
Revenues: $37.1 billion
Grocer’s son Curtis Carlson (1914-1999) created Gold Bond stamp company with $55 loan and built it into a conglomerate. Today the company owns 972 hotels, including Radisson and Regent Hotels, Carlson company acquired business travel firm Navigant International in 2006. Ownership is shared by Curtis Carlson’s two daughters: Marilyn Carlson Nelson, 68, and Barbara Gage, 65. Founder’s son-in-law Skip Gage, formerly president, left the company 1991 with a piece of his own when founder resumed control after successful bypass heart surgery. Carlson Wagonlit president and CEO Hubert Joly succeeded Marilyn Carlson Nelson as CEO of Carlson Companies in 2008; Nelson remains chairman. Nelson’s son Curtis Nelson, former heir apparent, was fired by his mother; a legal battle ensued.
6. * News Corp. (11)
Media conglomerate/New York, NY
Revenues: $32 billion
Respected journalist Sir Keith Murdoch built Australia’s largest newspaper company and passed it to son Rupert at his death in 1952. Rupert built huge global media/entertainment empire. Holdings today include TV (Fox Broadcasting plus cable networks and BSkyB satellite television), movies (20th Century Fox), scores of newspapers and magazines (London Times, New York Post, Dow Jones, etc.), publishing (HarperCollins), and sports team (Los Angeles Dodgers). Its Fox Interactive Media owns Myspace.com. Rupert, 77, is still in charge. Son James, 35, is chairman and CEO of News Corp. Europe and Asia and non-executive chairman of British Sky Broadcasting. Rupert’s son Lachlan, 37, the former heir apparent and publisher of the New York Post, resigned in 2005 but remains on the board.
7. * Comcast Corp. (16)
Cable provider/Philadelphia, PA
Revenues: $30.895 billion
Belt manufacturer Ralph Roberts launched cable TV service in Tupelo, Miss., in 1963. Today Comcast is the nation’s largest cable company, with 24 million subscribers, and second-largest Internet service provider. In 2002, Comcast acquired the assets of AT&T Broadband, the largest cable operator at the time. Ralph’s son Brian Roberts, 48, is now Comcast’s president, CEO and chairman. Super-voting shares give the Roberts family 33% voting power in Comcast, though it owns only about 1% of the equity.
8. * General Dynamics Corp. (14)
Defense contractor/Falls Church, VA
Revenues: $27.24 billion
Peppery Chicago dealmaker Henry Crown (1896-1990) built his family’s Material Services Corp. into the world’s largest building supply firm, sold it to General Dynamics 1960 and became GD’s largest shareholder. After feuding with GD’s board, Crown sold his stock, then bought back a controlling interest and installed himself and his son Lester as directors. Lester, now 82, stepped down from the board in 2006; his son James, 54, remains on GD’s board by virtue of the family’s 9% stake.
9. Bechtel Group Inc. (18)
Engineering, construction, project management/San Francisco, CA
Revenues: $27 billion
The largest engineering company in the U.S. started by rancher Warren A. (“Dad”) Bechtel, who built railroads in Oklahoma and moved to California in 1914. His son Stephen Sr. built Liberty ships for government during World War II. Stephen Jr., now 83, took over in 1965 and established reputation for megaprojects: airports; nuclear plants; trans-Alaska pipeline; Washington, D.C., subway; the Chunnel; “new city” of Jubail, Saudi Arabia, etc. The company has long had close ties to U.S. government officials and received a controversial $680 million contract for reconstruction work in Iraq in 2003. Stephen Jr.’s son Riley P. Bechtel, 56, is chairman and CEO.
10 (tie). HCA Inc. (NR)
Hospital operator/Nashville, TN
Revenues: $26.9 billion
Dr. Thomas Frist (father of former U.S. Sen Bill Frist) and his son Dr. Thomas Frist Jr. were among the partners who founded HCA (Hospital Corporation of America) in 1968. The company, which went public the following year, acquired hundreds of U.S. hospitals in the 1970s and 1980s. The company completed a $5.1 billion LBO in 1988, believing its shares to be undervalued, only to turn back to the public markets in 1992. In 1994, HCA merged with Louisville, Ky.-based Columbia Hospital Corporation. Amid government scrutiny over the company’s business practices, Frist Jr. become chairman and CEO and restructured HCA, selling off non-hospital businesses and several facilities. The company, which has been run by non-family since 2001, comprises 169 hospitals and 115 outpatient centers. In 2005, Sen. Frist (R-Tenn.) sold all his HCA shares before the stock dropped 9 points. Shareholders sued, alleging the company made false claims about its profits; the suit was settled in 2007, with HCA agreeing to pay $20 million to the shareholders. In 2006, Frist Jr., with three private equity investors, took the company private yet again, in a $30 billion LBO.
10 (tie). * Tyson Foods Inc. (7)
Food processor/Springdale, AR
Revenues: $26.9 billion
Founder John W. Tyson sold chickens and feed to Arkansas farmers, got into processing and distribution after discovering he could fetch higher prices up North. Today, company is the nation’s No. 2 chicken supplier (after Pilgrim’s Pride) and the world’s largest meat processing firm since purchase of IBP Fresh Meats. Son Donald, now 78, dropped out of college in senior year to enter the business (1952) and was joined at the helm by half-brother Randal (d. 1986) after his father died in a train accident (1967). Donald retired as senior chairman in 2001 but remains on the board, with other directors: son John H., 54, the current chairman, and Barbara Tyson (widow of Randal), who served as vice president from 1988 to 2002. Donald owns 99.97% of common shares and 71% of company’s voting power.
12. Mars Inc. (10)
Revenues: $25 billion
Candy-making Minnesotans Frank and Ethel Mars invented the Milky Way bar. Their secretive, driven son Forrest, supposed model for Willy Wonka, feuded with his father, started his own candy company in England, then merged with late father’s business in 1964. Forrest died in 1999 at age 95. Forrest’s son John, 71, is chairman; Forrest Jr., 76 is retired CEO; daughter Jacqueline Badger Mars, 67, is vice president. In 2008 the company agreed to acquire the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co.
13. Publix Super Markets Inc. (12)
Revenues: $23.2 billion
Founder George Washington Jenkins (d. 1996) hitchhiked from Georgia to Florida to seek his fortune in real estate. He got a job instead at Piggly Wiggly and worked his way up to manager. After a snub from the owner, he opened a competing store next door. The chain now operates more than 925 stores in five states. Son Charlie Jenkins Jr., 64, is chairman; Howard, 56, and Carol Jenkins Barnett, 51, are directors. Stock has been offered to employees since 1930; they now own about 30%.
14. C&S Wholesale Grocers Inc. (NR)
Food wholesaler/Keene, NH
Revenues: $19.5 billion
Israel Cohen co-founded what is today New England’s largest food wholesaler (and second in the U.S.) in 1918 with Abraham Siegel. His son Lester took over in 1972; he brought in his sons, Richard (currently chairman and CEO) and Jim. The company now serves 5,000 independent supermarkets, chains, mass marketers and wholesale clubs.
15. * Murphy Oil Corp. (45)
Oil/El Dorado, AR
Revenues: $18.44 billion
Charles H. Murphy Sr. started investing in oil in 1907; after World War I, his son Charles Jr. expanded into oil and gas production. After two non-family CEOs, founder’s grandson Claiborne Deming (Charles Jr.’s nephew), now 53, took over in 1994. The company currently operates pipelines in the U.S. and Canada and runs 1,362 gas stations in the U.S. and Britain, many on Wal-Mart lots.
‘I learned from the best partners … my father and uncle. They were in business together for 57 years before my uncle passed away…. And that partnership is carried on today because I’m fortunate to run a corporation with my two cousins, and we’re always honest with each other.’
— Jonathan Tisch, co-president and co-chairman, Loews Corp. (#16), speaking to the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, Sept. 23, 2008.
16. * Loews Corp. (9)
Holding company/New York, NY
Revenues: $18.38 billion
Entrepreneurial brothers Laurence (d. 2003 at age 80) and Preston (Bob) Tisch (d. 2005 at age 79), started in real estate, gained control of Loews Theatres in 1959; diversified into cigarettes, insurance (CNA Financial), oil and gas drilling, watches (Bulova), hotels. Loews gained control of CBS in 1986 and sold it in 1995. Larry’s son James, 55, took over as Loews CEO in 1999; his brother Andrew, 58, and Bob’s son Jonathan, 54, are co-presidents and co-chairmen. Tisches own more than 20% of stock. The company spun off its tobacco unit, Lorillard, as a stand-alone business in 2008.
17. * Illinois Tool Works Inc. (22)
Industrial equipment/Glenview, IL
Revenues: $16.171 billion
After founding Chicago’s Northern Trust Co. in 1889, patriarch Byron L. Smith (1853-1914) financed two Swedish toolmakers to form ITW. He later took control and handed the operation to his younger sons Walter and Harold C. (His eldest son remained at the bank.) Harold C.’s son Harold Byron Smith (d. 1990) took charge after World War II and diversified from fasteners, screws and washers into packaging systems, engineering components and medical and computer supplies. The acquisitive conglomerate spent about $1.7 billion in 2006 to buy more than 50 companies, and then another 52 last year. It now boasts 800 separate companies in 50 countries. Fourth-generation Harold Jr., 74, owns 10.1% of company shares and serves on the board.
18. * The Gap Inc. (13)
Retail chain/San Francisco, CA
Revenues: $15.763 billion
Donald and Doris Fisher, now 79 and 76, opened their first jeans store in 1969, just in time for the jeans craze of the 1970s. Banana Republic was added in 1983, Old Navy in 1994. The chain has retrenched from more than 4,250 stores in 2004 to today’s 3,150 worldwide. The Fishers still own about one third of stock; Donald remains chairman emeritus. Sons Robert and William left in 1998 and 1999, but Robert, 53, remains on the board of directors.
19. * Aflac Inc. (NR)
Revenues: $15.39 billion
Sells supplemental health and life insurance policies that cover cancer and other special conditions. One of the largest sellers of supplemental insurance in the U.S. and an industry leader in Japan. It’s marketed through (and is an acronym for) American Family Life Assurance Company. Daniel P. Amos, 56, son of co-founder Paul S. Amos, is chairman and CEO and has been with the company since 1973. His son, Paul S. Amos II, 32, is president, CFO, treasurer and EVP of Aflac U.S.
20. Cox Enterprises Inc. (21)
Media conglomerate/Atlanta, GA
Revenues: $15 billion
Reporter James M. Cox bought the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News in 1898 and the Atlanta Constitution in 1950; he died in 1957. The company now owns 17 daily newspapers, about 25 non-dailies, cable systems, some 80 radio stations and 15 TV stations. It engineered a buyout of formerly public company Cox Communications (one of the U.S.’s largest cable systems, with more than 6 million subscribers) in 2004. Founder’s daughter Anne Chambers, 88 (U.S. ambassador to Belgium under President Carter) controls the company; her sister, Barbara Anthony, died 2007. Barbara’s husband. Garner Anthony, stepped down as CEO in 1987 and was succeeded by James Cox Kennedy, now 60, Barbara’s son from a previous marriage. In August 2008, the company announced plans to sell 29 daily and weekly newspapers in Texas, Colorado and North Carolina, as well as Valpak, a direct mail advertising subsidiary of Cox Communications.
21. Fidelity Investments (FMR LLC) (25)
Financial services/Boston, MA
Revenues: $14.9 billion
Department store heir turned mutual fund pioneer Edward C. Johnson II bought Fidelity Fund in 1946, fired its investment adviser and managed the fund himself, stressing instincts and knowledge over prudence. Assets under management multiplied 1,000 times (from $3 million to $3 billion) by 1972, when his son Edward C. (Ned) III succeeded him. Now leading mutual fund company worldwide, with more than 300 funds, 23 million retail and institutional customers and $1.5 trillion assets managed. Ned, 78, reduced ownership share in parent FMR Corp. to 12% 1995, making daughter Abigail, 46, company’s largest shareholder (with 25%). At the time, Johnson relatives and top Fidelity execs owned the rest. (The company no longer releases ownership details.) Abigail, 46, is president of Fidelity Employer Services Co. Robert C. Ketterson, husband of Abigail’s sister Elizabeth, 45, is an executive at Fidelity Ventures, which manages Fidelity’s real estate, building supplies, telecommunications, a limousine service and a greenhouse. Brother Edward C. Johnson IV, 43, is a member of Fidelity board of trustees and vice president at Pembroke Real Estate, Fidelity’s real estate investment arm.
‘While we are fairly large as a private family business, in our field we are going against the $50 [billion] to $320 billion national and multinational organizations. We are small in that we are not able to do what they do in procurement and importing.’
— Hank Meijer, co-chairman and co-CEO of Meijer Inc. (#22), in Family Business, Summer 2007.
22. Meijer Inc. (19)
Retailing and groceries/Grand Rapids, MI
Revenues: $13.9 billion
Dutch immigrant Hendrik Meijer opened barbershop in 1914, added groceries to help pay rent. Son Frederik, now 88 and chairman emeritus, pioneered “one-stop shopping” concept in 1960s, expanded chain to 180 mega-stores in Midwest today. Founder’s grandson Hendrik (“Hank”) Meijer, 56, is CEO and co-chairman; Doug Meijer, 54, is co-chairman.
23. H.E. Butt Grocery Co. (20)
Food stores, bread bakeries/San Antonio, TX
Revenues: $13.5 billion
Florence Butt opened first store in Kerrville, Texas, with $60. Son Howard took over in 1919, opened a second store in 1927. Howard’s son Charles assumed leadership in 1971 at age 33 and expanded $200 million chain into nation’s 12th largest food retailer (first in South) with more than 300 supermarkets. Under CEO Charles, now 68, the company expanded and added food processing. The company donates 5% of its pre-tax earnings to education, art and food programs.
24. * Carnival Corp. (39)
Cruise line/Miami, FL
Revenues: $13 billion
World’s largest cruise operator (about a dozen cruise lines and 85 ships serving 7 million passengers). Operates luxury Princess Cruises, Holland America and Seabourn as well as flagship Carnival Cruise Lines. Chairman and CEO Micky Arison, 58, son of founder Ted Arison, and his family own about 30% of the company.
25. * Marriott International Inc. (26)
Hotels and casinos/Bethesda, MD
Revenues: $12.99 billion
From a Washington, D.C., root beer stand opened in 1927, J. Willard Marriott (1900-1985) and his wife, Alice, expanded into hotels and restaurants. It’s now the world’s largest lodging company, with 3,000 owned or franchised properties in 65 countries and more than 2,000 rental units for corporate housing; also manages 45 golf courses. Son John, now 75, named president in 1964, added retirement homes, financing. He runs Marriott International (J.W. III, 47, is vice chairman); brother Richard, 69, heads the family’s luxury Host Hotels & Resorts business (see #50 below). Alice died in 2000 at age 92. Marriott family owns about 30% of stock.
26. * Jabil Circuit Inc. (51)
Electronics manufacturing services/St. Petersburg, FL
Revenues: $12.29 billion
Founded in a suburban Detroit garage as a computer equipment maker. Founder’s son William Morean, now 52, swept floors as boy and returned in 1977 at age 22 to run a one-client company upon his father’s retirement. He was CEO from 1988 to 2000, when he became chairman. The company is now one of the nation’s top makers of printed circuit boards and other electrical components. Morean family owns about 15%.
27. JM Family Enterprises Inc. (29)
Auto dealerships/Deerfield Beach, FL
Revenues: $12.2 billion
Starting with a gas station, Chicagoan James Moran moved up to a used-car dealership, a Hudson franchise, then a Ford franchise. He moved to Florida for his health in the 1960s; acquired regional Toyota distributorship and built his family company into the world’s largest Lexus dealer and national biggest privately owned Toyota distributor. Founder now 88 and honorary chairman; daughter Pat retired as chairman in 2007.
28. Enterprise Rent-A-Car Co. (30)
Car rentals and leasing/St. Louis, MO
Revenues: $12.1 billion
On a hunch that drivers would rather lease than buy, Jack Taylor launched the firm in the basement of a Cadillac dealership. It now has 525,000 cars in 4,000 locations. The firm was named after aircraft carrier U.S.S. Enterprise, where Jack flew fighters as a Navy pilot in World War II. Took over competitors Alamo and National in late 2007. Jack’s son, Andrew Taylor, 60, is CEO. The Taylor family owns about 98% of the company. Five family members hold corporate posts, including Andrew Taylor’s daughter Christine Taylor Broughton, 32, and his niece Carolyn Kindle, 31. Pamela M. Nicholson, a non-family member, was named president in 2008.
29. Pilot Travel Centers LLC (NR)
Roadside rest stops/Knoxville, TN
Revenues: $11.8 billion
PTC was formed as 50-50 joint-venture between Pilot Corp. and Marathon Petroleum and is the 10th largest restaurant franchisee, the largest operator of travel centers (selling fuel and house fast-food restaurants) in the U.S., and Tennessee’s second largest privately held company, with 281 locations in 40 states. Founder and chairman Jimmy Haslam II started with a single gas station in Virginia. His son, James “Jimmy” Haslam III, 54, is president.
30. * Masco Corp. (23)
Building materials/Taylor, MI
Revenues: $11.77 billion
Founder Alex Manoogian (d. 1996) and two partners launched the company eight days before the 1929 stock market crash, but the company survived, allowing Manoogian to perfect single-handle Delta faucet. His Yale-educated son Richard, now 71, took over in 1968; the following year the company was listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Under Richard’s leadership, Manoogian acquired more than 100 building and home improvement companies. Richard remains executive chairman and owns 3.2% of common shares.
31. * Danaher Corp. (37)
Industrial equipment/Washington, DC
Revenues: $11 billion
Brothers Steven and Mitchell Rales started manufacturing company in their 20s and expanded through acquisitions into tools (Sears Craftsman hammers), components, process-environmental controls. Danaher acquired six companies in 2007, including ChemTreat, an industrial water treatment products maker and Tektronix, world's leading oscilloscopes vendor; more acquisitions are planned. Steven 56, is chairman; Mitchell, 52, is chairman of executive committee. Together they own 20%.
32. The Trump Organization (NR)
Real estate developer/New York, NY
Revenues: $10.7 billion
Fred Trump (d. 1999 at age 93) started a construction business at age 15, while continuing high school. Son Donald, now 62, joined his father’s company in 1968 and apprenticed under him for five years. The company owns and operates hotels, resorts, residential towers and golf courses and has developed high-end Trump International Hotel & Tower, Trump Tower, 40 Wall Street; also owns 28% of Trump Entertainment Resources, which owns casinos in Atlantic City, N.J. Co-owns (with NBC) Miss USA, Miss Teen USA and Miss Universe pageants. “The Donald’s” three oldest children, Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric, are executive vice presidents.
33. Reyes Holdings LLC (NR)
Food and beverage wholesaler/Rosemont, IL
Revenues: $10.1 billion
J. Christopher Reyes and M. Jude Reyes bought a Schlitz distributorship in Chicago, expanded into food distribution with 1998 purchase of Martin-Bower. Company. The business, which has grown largely through acquisitions, now delivers more than 390 million cases of beer and food products from more than 70 warehouses in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico as well as Central and South America. Chris Reyes (54) and Jude Reyes (52) are co-chairmen. VP David Reyes, 40, is also CEO of Reyes’ beer division.
34. * Qua